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The daily routines of famous creative people (podio.com)
93 points by shearnie on July 8, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

The takeaway?

Creative people by and large don't have "day jobs".

It makes me think of how unfortunate it is that the 40-hour work week became so entrenched that it's considered a minimum, and many places "expect" their employees invest even larger proportions of their lives working on someone else's lives. Makes you wonder what people could accomplish if we could live more like Buckminster Fuller's ideals:

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

What if make-work and consumption are inextricably connected? Retail therapy, Internet, and TV act as a release valve offering easy rewards, while an ever-ascending-and-more-difficult ladder exists for the more ambitious.

Meanwhile, culture modifies itself to reward consumption ("buy the expensive [read:right] things!") and ambition ("become powerful so you can buy the shiny things!"). I do believe we need to be productive, of course.

>Creative people by and large don't have "day jobs".

An excellent argument for the Universal Basic Income:


This reminds me of "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. One of the main thrusts is that if you are serious about your art -- whatever it might be -- you should treat it like your profession. Do your (creative) work every day, and make some progress, however small, every day. Whether you feel like it or not. Make your art your day job, and your old day job your side gig. Even if the change is just mental at first.

Day jobs as in 9-5, no, but a large % of them do something related to teaching. So most of them obviously needed some way of paying the bills.

It's interesting how few hours of sleep they get and they're all early-risers.

The few at the bottom aren't early risers

I suspect this may be derived from the book "Daily Rituals" which analysed a number of eminent people. I did an analysis from the book and my conclusions were:

I divided the people in the book "Daily Rituals" into eminent and not-so-eminent based on whether I could recall much about what they did.

I found that eminent people almost all had a strong daily routine. Eg Hemingway would start writing at 6:30am regardless of how hung-over he was (possibly the reason for his view that "all first drafts are rubbish"). 

Also they were very inclined to let nothing get in the way of their work. See below for some examples.

Quite a few took stimulants including tea coffee nicotine and even amphetamines in several cases. Eminent people were also more likely to take regular walks. Both the eminent and less eminent people had a pretty strong tendency to get working in the morning. The eminent people were  also more likely to have regular systematic social relaxation activities.

Proust took caffeine tablets and then took strong sleeping tablets to get to sleep. Perhaps he could have saved himself some money and put himself to sleep by reading his books.

I only had 13 non-eminent people as I got bored reading about people I had not heard of so the results for them are probably rather rubbery.

At the end I have extracts of the agreement of Einstein with his wife, and a report of Richard Feynman's (Nobel physicist) divorce case as illustrations of "hard core" commitment/obsession to their work.

Einstein Agreement with wife (relevant extracts)

A. You will make sure…

... especially that my desk is left for my use only.

B. ... you will forego…

my sitting at home with you;

my going out or traveling with you.

C. You will obey the following points in your relations with me…

you will stop talking to me if I request it;

*you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.

Feynman Divorce Testimony

>...the appointee’s wife was granted a divorce from him because of appointee’s constantly working calculus problems in his head as soon as awake, while driving car, sitting in living room, and so forth, and that his one hobby was playing his African drums. His ex-wife reportedly testified that on several occasions when she unwittingly disturbed either his calculus or his drums he flew into a violent rage, during which time he attacked her, threw pieces of bric-a-brac about and smashed the furniture.

I've done my own, changing the colors/labels a bit. Now that the 'data' is there for me to stare at, I can contemplate alterations.

For better or worse: http://i.imgur.com/TxYanPX.png

Interesting that there is no "parenting" category -- must be nice.

From what I hear, it is. It's a lifestyle choice; I'm surprised that the tone of your response seems to imply it is a necessity. It's not surprising that for this group of people who loved their work so much (see Einstein's relationship with his wife, Feynman's divorce, both detailed by another comment) that they had little interest in much else.

My tone is not intended imply necessity -- more that several of those figures ARE in fact parents. Darwin and Dickens both had 10 (10!!!) kids. I'm not interested in a discussion of good vs bad vs absent parents, I was trying to point out the kids and parenting are a significant time chunk.

I'm sure that we could go through the list of "creatives" here and enumerate the progeny for each one. In the way that the viz breaks down various other categories around "creative work", I jokingly suggested that a parenting vector is also warranted (though obviously impossible to produce) given that many of these figures had kids and in significant numbers.

Ah, very interesting perspective, thanks for clarifying.

Nice site! I think that it could also be a nice feature to sum the number of hours that a thinker did each type of activities. Did Voltaire sleep more than me? Do I exercise as much as Victor Hugo? These questions could be easily answered with this small addition.

Not many painters or visual artists mentioned... mostly writers and composers. I've found that, as a painter, I get most of my work done late at night -- and so do many other artists I know. Just another 2c...

Not many of them nap as often as I expected.

Very nicely done. I expected this to be just another attempt to hook into the buzz around Mason Currey's book, but the visual presentation of the data adds a lot.

More than anything, I'm surprised at how many of them do their creative work in the morning. Only a few did any real creating in the wee hours.

Interesting how so many people didn't fit exercise into their daily routines.

Maybe they should classify as exercise throwing stuff around in a rage when you're interrupted.

Hmmm, I usually just curse a blue streak until the walls bleed, when I'm interrupted.

The average life span of all the dead ones is almost 70. I think that's pretty good considering the time and lack of exercise. Even the benzedrine addict lived to be 66.

I wonder how sedentary their non-"exercise" activities were.

References needed. What is the source of the information?

There are source links on the page. At the bottom.

There's a whole book about this and its boring as fuck: http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Rituals-How-Artists-Work/dp/0307...

Everyone in the book sleeps, eats, drinks wine, and finally works for a couple hours when they can be alone. Later a little bit of opium.

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